Trachycarpus on Parade

(page 2)

2. Trachycarpus takil. From a few locations in northern India, very rare now in the wild as most trees have been cut down for the fibre. Enormous confusion caused by a simple photograph of T. wagnerianus in James McCurrach's 1960 'Palms of the World' which was captioned T. takil. Confusion still reigns, especially in the USA. T. takil is very similar in appearance to T. fortunei, and only subtle differences separate them. lt seems that the difference is more geographical than physical, the populations are a very long way from China. Very rare in cultivation too. Sorry, but if you think you may have a T. takil in your garden, you almost certainly don't. I don't think any seeds have come out of India between 1887 when some were sent to Beccari in Florence (his description was based on one of the resulting plants) and a couple of years ago when Toby and I sent back a few thousand from Naini Tel where they are cultivated. Imagine our feelings when, after all our care and hard work, those we sold to a seed dealer were re-distributed as 'Trachycarpus takil/ wagnerianus'! Maddening! Almost certainly the most cold-hardy in the genus, and the fastest-growing. See Principes 37 (1) 1993.

3. Trachycarpus wagnerianus. Easily identified species with small, very stiff leaves. Grows as tall as T. fortunei, with as thick a trunk. There is some doubt as to whether it deserves its species status: the leaf shape is about the only difference between it and T. fortunei (there are some subtle floral differences, too), and it is not known in the wild. That does not mean it was never known in the wild, but there are no records. Just as hardy as T. fortunei, prettier, and considerably more resistant to wind, the curse of the Chusan Palm.

4. Trachycarpus nanus. Not much doubt about this species as it is the only one not to grow an above-ground trunk (or at most, just a few inches) . From Yunnan Province, China, and under great threat from goats there which eat not the plant, but the newly emerging inflorescences. Only recently introduced into cultivation, there are no mature plants anywhere in the world outside Yunnan See Principes 37 (2) 1993.

5. Trachycarpus 'oreophilus'. This is a new species from northern Thailand, yet to be scientifically described (in press). The wild trees grow on wet and windswept mountain ridges and thus have a somewhat untidy appearance. In cultivation and out of the wind, they should look fabulous. Recently into cultivation, a few hundred seeds have been distributed. See Chamaerops (9) 1993 and (17) 1995

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